French driver Pierre Gasly is preparing himself for the challenge of his life, in replacing Daniel Ricciardo at Red Bull Racing from 2019.

The 22-year-old is the fifth Red Bull junior team member to be promoted from Toro Rosso to the brand’s top squad after Sebastian Vettel, Ricciardo, Daniil Kvyat and Max Verstappen.

… with Gasly relishing the chance to test himself at the highest level, as new teammate to F1’s heir apparent Verstappen.

“This incredible opportunity is another step forward in my ambition to win Grands Prix and compete for World Championships,” he said.

The Frenchman has been mighty impressive this year, with four top-10 finishes from the first 13 races – his standout, fourth in Bahrain.

…while he ran as high as third in Hungary, before dropping back to sixth, proving a boost to Toro Rosso power unit supplier Honda – the Japanese manufacturer previously completing just 12 laps in a podium place in the sport’s entire turbo-hybrid era.

While in Belgium on Sunday, Gasly’s ninth place proved Honda’s growing credentials on power tracks.

The Frenchman’s Red Bull Racing chance has been a long time coming, with Gasly joining the brand’s famous junior team back in 2014, aged 18 – alongside Carlos Sainz and Britain’s Alex Lynn.

With the Formula Renault 2.0 title behind him, Gasly finished runner-up in the 2014 Formula Renault 3.5 championship to Sainz – before switching to GP2, winning the title in 2016, beating Ferrari junior Antonio Giovinazzi.

“I had a really fantastic year last year with Prema in GP2 with the title, so I must say we were competitive all year, fighting for pole positions and victories or podiums each race.”

… while last year he kept his racecraft razor-sharp, competing in Japan’s Super Formula series, with a typhoon preventing him from challenging for the title at the final round.

He also competed in F1’s final five events for Toro Rosso, his best result 12th place in Brazil – before being confirmed for a full-time seat for 2018. Gasly always believing his chance would come.

“I could see the guys in F1, and I could see the result they had in the past, and I have the same result or [a] better result than some of them. So I always thought ‘OK, if you keep pushing, if you keep working, if you keep showing that you have the potential, it has to come at some point.’”

… while his standout results this year, and Daniel Ricciardo’s shock switch to Renault, have all contributed to Gasly’s promotion.

…and though the team knows he’s lacking experience, Red Bull motorsport consultant Doctor Helmut Marko says Gasly makes up for it in other ways.

“His pure speed, especially in qualifying, is very close to Max,” said Marko. “That is one of his strengths.”

In Verstappen, he also has a long-time friend – the pair racing each other in karts in 2010. And Gasly says there’s plenty of mutual respect there. 

He’ll also have a head-start in working with Honda, with whom he’s been powered by in Super Formula and at Toro Rosso… 

But, while the pressure and expectations will ramp up significantly ahead of his 2019 debut for Red Bull’s top team, Gasly knows full well what he’s getting into, and how to perform in that environment.

“Since I arrived in Red Bull, you know, that's the way it works. You just, you put pressure on yourself and you need to deal with it.”